Richard Lester (Dick) Moyer passed away in Meeker, Colo., at the Walbridge Wing on July 28, 2015, about a month shy of his 89th birthday.
He was born in Meeker on Aug. 23, 1926, to George W. and Iva Babcock Moyer and was the second surviving child.
He lived on the family dry farm homestead on Lime Kiln Hill southeast of Meeker until the age of nine, when the family moved to Grand Valley, Colo. They lived on Van Horn Island southwest of where his father farmed. Later, the family moved to Rifle, where he attended High School.
Prior to finishing high school, at the age of 17, Richard enlisted in the United States Navy in 1944 and served mostly as a gunner’s mate on the U.S.S. Barnett (APA-5), a Navy attack transport ship where he made three trips to the Philippine Islands. His ship was initially part of the assault force that was assembling for an invasion of the southern island of Japan, but it was diverted to the Philippine Islands prior to the dropping of the Atomic Bomb on Japan. He was a vocal advocate for the lives saved on all sides by the bomb.
After mustering out of the Navy in 1946, he joined with his older brother and others in the operation of a sawmill and logging business. He was the sawyer on the mill for several years, first near Hiner Spring on Burro Mountain, then at Miller Creek, southeast of Meeker.
Richard married Merle Dene Hilkey in Meeker on St. Patrick’s Day (March 17) in 1951. They left Meeker and lived in eight different places in Colorado where he was a sawyer on sawmills. In 1955, he then started as a log cutter and worked on the Uncompahgre in Colorado and in the La Sal Mountains and Abajo Mountains of Utah. In early 1957, he moved the family to the State of Washington, where he worked with a partner in cutting and hauling pulp wood in three different areas. Before the end of 1957, he moved to Utah, where he resumed work as a log cutter. He also did a bit of rough-necking in the Paradox Valley and at Aneth Field prior to resuming log cutting in New Mexico and Arizona.
In the spring of 1960, he and his wife moved back to their roots in Meeker to raise their family, with the oldest of four children ready to enter first grade. They started their own business with a sawmill in the woods on the Grand Hogback near Rio Blanco, Colo., and they sold retail rough lumber in Meeker. After moving the sawmill to near Marvine Creek and then to West Miller Creek on the White River, the sawmill and lumber sales were then moved to their current location a few miles west of Meeker in 1962. They operated the logging, saw-milling and retail sales of mostly rough lumber, timbers and house logs for nearly 30 years. There were constant upgrades in equipment along the way, until Richard retired at age 65 in 1991.
At one time or another during his career, Richard worked with most of his brothers and all of his wife’s brothers, and he taught his children to work as well. He was known to be a hard worker and tough taskmaster. Over the years, a number of community members worked for him. Importantly, he did not expect anyone working for him to do anything that he wasn’t there or willing to do as well. If a particular job was dangerous or difficult, he was in there doing it. He had many close calls and near misses and was fortunate to never sustain a crippling injury.
In the woods, he worked with care to log the areas to protect the resources and promote forest health. He wanted the woods to look better and be in better shape when he had finished logging than when he started. He was also very skilled at obtaining the best possible grade of lumber from the available logs that were being sawed, and he had a reputation for being dependable and making quality products.
He served one term on the Meeker School Board in the early 1970s. He also served on advisory boards for the U.S. Forest Service.
Hunting was a tradition in his family, and for several years he had a guide and outfitter’s license and ran hunters during the big game hunting season.
In the late 1970s, he and his wife acquired a property in the Dry Creek drainage, and they worked to develop a cabin and fish ponds. In later years, he worked to make this property a showcase for land stewardship and spent a significant amount of time there.
Richard was preceded in death by: his parents, George and Iva Moyer; and his five siblings, Walter Moyer, Ralph Moyer, Elmer Moyer, Josephine Moyer Purkey and David Moyer.
He is survived by: his wife of 64 years Merle Dene Moyer; his four children, Larry (Diane) Moyer, Don (Sue) Moyer, Beverly (Jim) Brennan, and Gary (Betty Lou) Moyer; along with numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews.